Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pear Clafouti with Star Anise

So my roommate hired a maid to come over and clean our apartment. Friggin' amazing. Our apartment is sooooo clean. I've never been more appreciative of Latin America's hard working people than I am right now. And yes, I wondered if they were illegal immigrants. Does that make me racist? Living in California, I've heard so much about illegal immigration that I couldn't help but wonder. Anyhow, I'll enjoy the fruits of their labor. A drop of coffee spilled on the counter earlier this morning and I immediately wiped it up. When the cleaners come back next week, they will say, "Aye amigo, ess so cleeen in here!" Wait...I'm pretty sure THAT was racist. Sorry.

This is my baking post for the week. As I understand it, clafouti is something along the lines of a French farmhouse dessert. Something very simple that grandmas make due to the availability of the principal ingredients. Sugar, cream, eggs, flour, who doesn't have this stuff? I am using the recipe out of Jean-Georges:Cooking at home with a Four-Star Chef and I believe that, in the past, I've espoused the purchase of this book. My opinion of it has not changed. Go buy it.

The stuff you'll need. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. That's right, I specify Fahrenheit because I have readers from all over the globe...wouldn't want people thinking it was 350 Celsius (662 Fahrenheit) and burning their kitchens down.

Grind up 3 star anise. This is what star anise looks like. It smells like licorice. Add 3 eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla extract to a mixing bowl and beat. I now have an electric mixer. It is wonderful. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until "foamy and fairly thick." Add 6 tablespoons of flour and beat until "thick and smooth." Add 3/4 cup of cream, the powdered star anise and a few pinches of salt. Mix in and let the batter rest. This is what mine looked like: Prepare the pans. The recipe calls for a 10 inch round pie pan. I used a 7.75 inch pie pan and (stupidly) wondered why I had leftover batter. In addition to the 7.75 inch pie pan, I used a 8x8 square baking dish. To prepare the pans, butter them up, throw in a bit of flour and rotate the pans so the flour has a chance to adhere to the buttered surface. Shake out any excess flour. Prepare the fruit. Peel the pears and slice the into eighths. Cut out the cores. Arrange the pears in your baking dishes. I think I used a total of three pears.Cover the baking dishes with the batter. The book recommends "leaving just a little of the tops of the pears peeking through."Chuck the clafouti into the oven. Recipe says 20 minutes or until "the clafouti is nicely browned on top and a knife inserted into it comes out clean." I have an issue here. It took me 40 minutes to achieve the desired results. And I'm not the only one...every online recipe for clafouti that I looked at called for cooking times WELL over 20 minutes. Most were somewhere between 30-45 minutes. My point is, whoever wrote "20 minutes" in the cookbook was on crack. It is absolutely incorrect.

Here is your reward:
Allow to cool, sift some powdered sugar over the tops and you've got a tasty breakfast!
Time- About an hour, total. Most of this is inactive while the clafouti bakes.

Food Cost- Ummm, pretty damn cheap...about $2.50 total. It's really quite cheap.

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